The automotive industry is witnessing a major seismic shift toward technological advancements. Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming mainstream at an unprecedented rate, showing no signs of slowing down in the upcoming decade. The U.S. EV sales surpassed the 300,000 mark for the first time in 2023’s third quarter.
Despite the turbulence created by widespread price wars throughout 2023, coupled with inflation and surplus inventory, the EV market continues to ascend. Even though the growth hasn’t been as vigorous as initially forecasted, companies like Rivian Automotive, Inc. (RIVN) continue to carry momentum into 2024, recently enhancing its prospects with positive news.
Wireless carrier AT&T Inc. (T) has entered into a partnership agreement with RIVN, announcing its decision to receive a range of pilot electric delivery vans (EDVs), R1T pickup trucks, and R1S sport utility vehicles commencing in 2024. The main objectives of this joint venture are to assess cost-efficiency, amplify safety measures, and reduce the carbon footprint.
For many years, T has been progressively converting its commercial fleet into vehicles operating on alternative fuels, including compressed natural gas and hybrid electric vehicles. To meet its ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, T is leveraging EVs coupled with route optimization and artificial intelligence (AI). Adding to this initiative, T is the exclusive provider of connectivity for RIVN vehicles, facilitating seamless over-the-air (OTA) software updates.
Considering stringent environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals and emission reduction targets, companies are fiercely competing to transition toward zero-emission fleets. High interest rates have posed affordability challenges for consumers as they increase the already hefty price tags of EVs compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles, leading to raised concerns over softening demands.
RIVN reported considerable interest and demand for its electric vans. In November, the company announced it was in dialogues with other potential customers, reinforcing speculations of additional EDV partnerships on the horizon for RIVN despite not revealing any specific names.
Last month, RIVN ended its exclusivity deal with Amazon (AMZN) for its EDV. This move provides RIVN with the opportunity to market its EDVs to a broader client base, with T reportedly being its first outside customer. The termination doesn’t impact the previously stated commitment from RIVN to fulfill an order of 100,000 vans for AMZN by the end of this decade. Indicative of progressive momentum, AMZN already had over 10,000 Rivian EDVs in operation as of October.
Moreover, RIVN also outlined its production strategy for the near future. The manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois, is scheduled to cease operations for a single week at the closing of 2023 in anticipation of a more extended shutdown in mid-2024.
This hiatus aims to facilitate extensive line modifications and advancements, including part design changes, component simplification, and optimizations to elements such as the HVAC system and vehicle body structure. While these temporary production halts are expected to reduce output in the short term, they are deemed necessary to enable cost reductions and augment long-term production capacity.
“The impacts of the shutdown are temporary in nature, but…
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